By Jennifer Hannigan
One image has already burned itself into my heart. As I write this you stare at me from my computer screen, slightly lopsided, mischievous grin on your face. Your blue eyes are getting darker and look almost brown against the arboretum’s fall pumpkins. Your hair is starting to curl a little, losing the fine texture of babyhood, and I can’t help but wonder if one day it will be curly like mine.
Our family jokes that you’re a “mini-Jennifer.” Your heart-shaped chin, your nose, and your hair are all reminiscent of your mother.
Sometimes you speak and I hear myself. Many of your mannerisms are mine. Your love of nature, your heart for others, your hunger for God are all very much echoes of me. So are some of your bad traits, but we won’t go into those. You will fight those battles just as I have. I hope you win. I hope it’s easier for you than it was for me.
Despite our similarities, I see those things that are so uniquely you. You will hug strangers when I shy away from them. You stand on stepstools in your pajamas, toy microphone in hand, and insist that I listen to tune after tune, watch dance after dance. You tell your mother, the poster child for the uncoordinated, that you want to be a ballerina when you grow up.
I see your striped sweater, falling just a little away from your neck, showing a touch of your shoulder. And suddenly I can see that shoulder peeking out from the strap of a prom dress. I see it bare, your fair skin pale against the white of a wedding gown. But in my mind, that smile is still there, slightly lopsided, reflected in your clear eyes.
From my screen I see a glimpse of the woman you will be: strong-willed, sweet, kind and with just a touch of sass.
That thought startles me, scares me as I think of you grown. Not ready for that yet. Those days will come soon enough. When the time comes, I look forward to getting to know that woman I see staring out of your little eyes. I hope we are friends.
But today you are four, and my heart rejoices in that thought.
I love four. Four is good.